There is an old saying in the Navy, to wit, "You can't polish a turd." This poetic, vulgar phrase helped old sailors teach new sailors that you can't transform something inherently bad into something good and pleasant. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz's investigation of the FBI's handling of the Carter Page FISA application is a case study in turd polishing. No matter how much you rub it and massage it, the end product is a putrid, disgusting thing.
The media mob, unwilling to actually read the report, seized on the following Horowitz conclusions as proof that this was all about nothing:
we concluded that the quantum of information articulated by the FBI to open the individual investigations on Papadopoulos, Page, Flynn, and Manafort in August 2016 was sufficient to satisfy the low threshold established by the Department and the FBI.
We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page.
But these are not the major conclusions of the Horowitz report. The Inspector General's review of the FBI actions in their wide ranging effort to secure a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page is damning. The FBI lied, obfuscated and hid exculpatory evidence.
Attorney General Barr weighed in to reinforce the fundamental findings of the Inspector General:
The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken. It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration. In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source. The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.
William Barr knows criminal activity and is not shy about calling out those responsible.
The most surprising development of the day was the statement released by Prosecutor John Durham, who is investigating the how this investigation of Trump actually was initiated. The Washington Post reported on Sunday the following nonsense:
Barr’s handpicked prosecutor tells inspector general he can’t back right-wing theory that Russia case was U.S. intelligence setup
Durham did not let that lie stand. He also issued a statement today on the heels of Attorney General Barr's statement:
“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,”
To reiterate–the Horowitz report, in general, presents one damning case after another of FBI misconduct and lying. But he did not take a serious look at the actual predication of the investigation. (Predication simply means the legal basis for starting the investigation). If you take time to read the Horowitz report you will see for yourself that he accepts the bogus claim as fact that "Russia"meddled in our election. That phrase has become an article of faith, but Russian intelligence activities surrounding the 2016 election did not–I REPEAT–did not help Donald Trump win a surprising victory in November 2016.
I suspect most of you do not have the patience or time to wade through the turgid prose of Horowitz. So let me share a couple of the most damning conclusions:
The Crossfire Hurricane team failed to inform Department officials of significant information that was available to the team at the time that the FISA applications were drafted and filed. Much of that information was inconsistent with, or undercut, the assertions contained in the FISA applications that were used to support probable cause and, in some instances, resulted in inaccurate information being included in the applications. (p. V)
However, as we describe later, as the FBI obtained additional information raising significant questions about the reliability of the Steele election reporting, the FBI failed to reassess the Steele reporting relied upon in the FISA applications, and did not fully advise NSD or 01 officials. We also found that the FBI did not aggressively seek to obtain certain potentially important information from Steele. . . . Agents also did not question Steele about his role in a September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article entitled, "U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump advisor and Kremlin," that described efforts by U.S. intelligence to determine whether Carter Page had opened communication channels with Kremlin officials. (p. VI)
the Department decision makers who supported and approved the application were not given all relevant information. (p. VII)
In support of the fourth element in the FISA application-i.e. Carter Page's alleged coordination with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities-the application relied entirely on the following information from Steele Reports 80, 94, 95, and 102:
We found that the FBI did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page in Steele's reporting when it relied upon his reports in the first FISA application or subsequent renewal applications. . . . the Woods Procedures require only that the agent verify, with supporting documentation, that the application accurately reflects what the CHS told the FBI.
the representations about Steele's prior reporting were overstated and had not been approved by Steele's handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures.
Our review found that FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are "scrupulously accurate." We identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.
In fact, Horowitz does not praise FBI leaders, particularly Comey and McCabe, for doing a damn fine job. To the contrary. They are roundly and universally condemned for failing to follow FBI policies and procedures.
The Horowitz take down of the failures of the FBI should alarm any American committed to protecting civil liberties. Here's the relevant section of the summary:
Relevant Information Inaccurately Stated, Omitted, or Undocumented in the First Application
- Omitted information the FBI had obtained from the CIA detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that Page had been approved as an "operational contact" for the CIA from 2008 to 2013, and that Page had provided information to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers, one of which overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application;
- Included a source characterization statement asserting that Steele's prior reporting had been "corroborated and used in criminal proceedings," which overstated the significance of Steele's past reporting and was not approved by Steele's handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures;
- Omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person 1, a key Steele sub-source, namely that ( 1) Steele himself told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that Person 1 was a "boaster" and an "egoist" and "may engage in some embellishment".
- Asserted that the FBI had assessed that Steele did not directly provide to the press information in the September 23 Yahoo News article based on the premise that Steele had told the FBI that he only shared his election-related research with the FBI and Fusion GPS, his client; this premise was incorrect and contradicted by documentation in the Woods File– Steele had told the FBI that he also gave his information to the State Department;
- Omitted Papadopoulos's consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in September 2016 denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like Wikileaks in the release of emails;
- Omitted Page's consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in August 2016 that Page had "literally never met" or "said one word to" Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not responded to any of Page's emails; if true, those statements were in tension with claims in Report 95 that Page was participating in a conspiracy with Russia by acting as an intermediary for Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign; and
- Included Page's consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in October 2016 that the FBI believed supported its theory that Page was an agent of Russia but omitted other statements Page made that were inconsistent with its theory, including denying having met with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was; if true, those statements contradicted the claims in Report 94 that Page had met secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about future cooperation with Russia and shared derogatory information about candidate Clinton.
We concluded that the failures described above and in this report represent serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents with responsibility over the FISA applications. These failures prevented OI from fully performing its gatekeeper function and deprived the decision makers the opportunity to make fully informed decisions. Although some of the factual misstatements and omissions we found in this review were arguably more significant than others, we believe that all of them taken together resulted in FISA applications that made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case.
That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI, and that FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command's management and supervision of the FISA process. FBI Headquarters established a chain of command for Crossfire Hurricane that included close supervision by senior CD managers, who then briefed FBI leadership throughout the investigation.
It is amazing the Jim Comey, the disgraced former FBI Director, was tweeting today like he won the Super Bowl. He seems to think he was exonerated. He was not. This report condemns his conduct. The flaws and lies in the Carter Page FISA application were not minor slip ups by low level clerks. The Chain of Command allowed this disgrace to go forward. That is on Jim Comey. No matter how much scrubbing and polishing you want to do on Jim Comey, you can't remove this brown stain of stink.
The Guardian had an interesting take Larry, here’s their headline.
“ Steele had ‘personal’ relationship with Ivanka Trump, DoJ report reveals
Former MI6 officer gifted her ‘family tartan from Scotland’
Steele was ‘favorably disposed’ to Trump family, report said
What this points out is that we cannot trust the DOJ and FBI anymore. Nor can we trust the FISC.
I was vehemently opposed to the Patriot Act and the FISA extensions. My worst fears then have been proven. Unfortunately the establishment and leadership of both parties are complicit in this abuse of extraordinary powers given law enforcement. Nothing short of complete removal of all these draconian authorities will do. In fact every FISA warrant should be fully examined by SCOTUS and juries should treat all testimony and evidence by the FBI and DOJ with great skepticism.
In other words, all the FBI committed were sins of omission.
You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.
In total agreement. Good summation. Thank you for getting on top of this. So much that was damning and so many false notes.
That “Russian” ruse right in the beginning in this report follows both the Mueller report and the Impeachment hearings total refusal to even mention Crowdstrike. How can any report or hearing conclude “investigations established the Russians hacked the DNC”, when NO official investigation was ever conducted. That was a Horowitz fatal oversight a rookie error -which makes it far more sinister than it should be. Again, the Crowstrike abuse is the dog they still keep from barking.
One can also quickly tell when reading MSM articles and commentary that few to none of them even read the executive summary, let alone the full report which as you point out is quite damning.
Instead they substitute their own carefully parsed straw dog arguements that were not even on the table. Shaed of Barry Soetoro and his “some people say” arguments.
To conclude all “right wing” conspiracies about the origins of this very sorry incident have been totally debunked is intentionally misleading and intentionally evasive.. This is shocking really, as the report so very carefully lays out real abuses, systematic abuses and no one within the FBI gets off as competent, if not factually vindictive in the entire report.
I remain quite stunned at the depth of wrong-doing, explained only by claer anti-Trump bias this report contains, that they somehow claim is not “partisan” – again carefully parsing words?. Only partisan (aka anti-Trump) bias and plenty of personal bias is the only justification for this entire sorry chapter to have been initiated in the first place – wholly insufficient investigation the prequel before they claim they started CrossFire Hurricane.
Clearly everything flowed from their upfront bias – Orange Man Bad. Orange Man cannot be trusted. Get Orange Man. Compromise Orange Man. Unload every piece of dirt you have on Orange Man. Shades of Kavanaugh – the Democrat politics of personal destruction at it again.
Indeed, Barr and Durham were forced to intervene today simply due to the egregious spin coming from the anti-Trump Democrat sympathizers. Just like Mueller was forced to do as well, when Democrat spin was undermining the substance of his (highly flawed) report.
Whatever happened to our country, our shining city on the hill when you have this Democrat two ring circus assaulting us and the world from all sides. Has America gone totally mad? Talk about undermining national security. These Democrat partisan stunts are leaving us wide open to both friend and foe, simply because of one event – the full and fair election of Donald Trump.
The only upside is perhaps this will slow down illegal border crashers who will decide to take their chances in Lower Slobovia instead of coming to this current Democrat-run clown show we used to call our hallowed land.
FBI did commit sins by commission as well as omission, as well as intentionally distorting the Crowdstrke investigation. .
However there is a video online of some wild and crazy science guys who took on the challenge and did in fact polish some compacted excrement – which is pretty much what the MSM is doing right now too. I would not say they are polishing it, but squeezing it through their fingers and smearing it on the walls.
It would seem that whoever the “we” are who deemed that neither “political bias” nor “improper motivation” were factors in applying for the FISA warrants suffer from cognitive dissonance.
Why ELSE would the FBI lie, withhold exculpatory evidence, and willfully ruin innocent peoples’ lives?
FBI Didn’t Tell Surveillance Court That Carter Page Was ‘Operational Contact’ For CIA With ‘Positive Assessment’
Stephen Richter says
has anyone asked Comey if Obama, Holder and/or Lynch were informed as to the FBI investigations? Obviously, Comey and Brennan were doing what Obama wanted done. Very frustrating that Republicans in Congress have been so lame at getting to the bottom of all of this.
One would have to be a complete idiot to walk into a meeting and ask the President of the United States to step into another room and tell him there are statements being made that he participated in some Golden Showering in Russia, without first checking the facts, but that is what that IDIOT Comey did. This idiot has allowed the FBI to fall lower in esteem than the D.C. Garbage Collectors but at least the Garbagemen get their job done on time. Idiocy should be a crime.
Diana C says
Thank you for this excellent report.
I am afraid, however, that the reading level of your report is far too high for the middle school level of comprehension of most of the people who report the news nowadays or of those who read or listen to the news.
They will wait for the likes of Adam Schiff to do a dramatic interpretation (parody) of the report to match his dramatic interpretation of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine.
I am currently awaiting a call from the Social Security Administration, which has somehow determined that I make more than twice as much money a year than I actually make. Let’s hope I can explain their mistake in third-grade language to help them see where THEY have gone wrong.
Or… perhaps I can convince them to arrange for me to provide the income they claim I have.
I guess that Comey feels exonerated, because his name does not appear anywhere in the IG’s report. The report does mention a person named “CORNEY.” One can demonstrate this by copying that name from anywhere in the report, and pasting it into a text document with a different font, a serif one especially, and the name “CORNEY” will be apparent. This has been dismissed as an OCR machine error. Much fodder for conspiracy theorists.
Fourth and Long says
They are pathetic losers and anyone with brains knew it long ago. Everything coming out is supporting your suspicions and hard work Larry. Kudos to you. And you know you are hardly alone. If you have not done so yet, enjoy Matt Taibbi’s latest on the Horowitz report in rollingstone:
Corroboration Zero’: An Inspector General’s Report Reveals the Steele Dossier Was Always a Joke
The reports throws water on one “deep state” conspiracy theory of the Russia investigation, but validates complaints about “fake news”
When Comey and the rest of the deep state start with the premise and prejudice Orange Man is Bad, they don’t need to check out anything because they already decided of course this is true.
Orange Man Bad – Orange Man engages in Golden Showers. B follows A – it is elementary. So maybe they were not politically biased to support claim of partisan bias. But they were clearly personally biased from the very beginning which tainted every single thing they did from step one onwards. Orange Man Bad.
That’s funny. I thought upper level FBI leadership and its failed oversight that allowed these abuses to occur for so long was another way of saying James Comey.
Patrick Armstrong says
Actually, you can polish a turd. Watch WaPo/NYT/CNN/MSNBC do it.
Takes some time though.
Terence Gore says
Viktor Shokin: “Biden was Outraged That We Seized Burisma Assets”
from Kuntsler Blog
Interesting second video linked in article has been removed. Lutsenko interviewed and he said “Ambassador Yovanvitch was specific on who he could not investigate
Found here on OAN
I called the FBI about something before. The level of idiocy I heard on the other end of the phone floored me.
Eric Newhill says
No. You cannot trust govt – any aspect of it – and you never could. There’s nothing new about any of this, except perhaps the level of in-your-faceness.
No one is going down for any of this. There was never an iota of a chance. Only outsiders are punished.
Larry and Col Lang may be honorable men, but they lent their honor to scumbags and they’d like to believe othewise.
“may be honorable men,” One mor nail in the coffin lid of SST.
wtf? What the hell did you ever do for the Republic?
I opened the link to the entire report (courtesy of Keith Harbaugh, if I remember correctly) and read the executive summary and some fragments of the main text. Reading any legalese, (in addition not even in my native tongue) is a chore to me. But reading this one, I was taken aback by the deceptive prose, and I also noticed the strange similarity of Corney and Comey. Was that obvious repetitive error passed over to mislead readers? Two suspicions: 1. Mr. Horowitz produced this report after consultations with several ´grey eminences´ so that his consultations could remain totally confidential, without „evidentiary“, „documentary“, „witness“ traces. (those words are in the report, to me it is a naive, lame excuse for lack of evidence for malfeasance, as if only written words ´count´ – too naive for a top level legal minds).
2. These informal consultations might have been inspired by bipartisan concerns about the loss of control over corrupted agencies, because if they are corrupt, they can be corrupt for both parties…sooner or later. And another concern which might be a ´vis a tergo´ to produce a weasel paper (with hidden hedges and hidden accusations), is the fear of first civil / later racial unrest, if Pres. Obama and his entourage would be found out. Just my one cent of analysis.
Larry Johnson says
Scumbags? The only scumbag is you.
Eric Newhill says
I see a borderless land mass controlled by unaccountable bureaucrats and lying politicians that hold the people in contempt, supported by a lying media, populated by an increasing number of people who are educated to despise the fundamental law of the land as well as its ideals and the men who conceived of it all.
There’s no going back, Fred. A thousand honorable men working under a Clapper, Comey, Brennan – whoever is filling the suit/uniform/desk today or tomorrow – can’t stop an Iraq invasion, an endless war in Afghanistan, the murder of thousands of Christians in Syria in a misguided effort to depose the elected leader of the country, a coup plot in the USA or even get corroding bridges in Peoria repaired. I don’t see any George Marshalls that one could report to. The republic is a faded memory at this point and if you make enough noise, the scumbags will bury you. It’s been trending that way, hard, for at least 20 years.
Eric Newhill says
Intended to be read with the connotation “Are honorable men, but are/were working for a system thoroughly controlled by scumbags”.
I had to make a road trip for work on Monday and I listened to the impeachment hearings for almost eight straight hours. Then was scanning the “news” yesterday evening. That experience colored my attitude. As I said to Fred, I am not so sure there is any longer a republic to which to dedicate one’s honor and allegiance. That was the spirit of my comment.
East Indian says
The agencies are in control, not the politicians.
You cannot insult me and expect me to consider you a friend.
Eric Newhill says
No insult intended.
Just trying to say that lately I wonder if we aren’t just pissing into the wind short of a modern day Robert E Lee emerging.
Lee participated in planning and waging aggressive war against Mexico. Had he lent his honor to scoundrels?
You have chosen to use your courage to earn some more money in that insurance company you claim to work for and moan, groan, and troll around on somebody else’s blog. Congratulations on your achievement.
Eric Newhill says
I take your point and I apologize. I see how I did insult you. I have the highest respect for you.
Eric Newhill says
OK. what do you suggest doing?
Try running for office.
A house divided — seems that POTUS Trump’s counsel Kellyanne Conway and her hubby don’t see eye to eye when it comes to Trump. Kellyanne supports her boss the POTUS, Kellyanne’s hubby doesn’t. George Conway (a lawyer) doesn’t support Trump so much so that he has formed a SUPERPAC to attempt to defeat Trump in the 2020 election. George Conway has surrounded himself with sour-apple never-Trumpers.
Durham going after Brennan? I’ll believe it when I see it.